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12 tips to help a young person develop confidence

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Jun 4, 2021

Confidence is a skill. If you have a young person in your life who you want to help on their journey to developing confidence, here are 12 tips to get started.

These tips are provided by SpeakUP, a program for young people with disability aged 7-14 years old to build confidence in speaking up for their choices at school. SpeakUP is free for young people aged 7-14 with disability who go to a mainstream school in NSW. Learn more about Speakup

1. Model confidence yourself

Even if you are not quite feeling it – Fake it! Seeing you tackle new tasks with enthusiasm and lots of preparation sets a good example for young people.

2. Do not get upset about mistakes

Help young people see that everyone makes mistakes, and the important thing is to learn from them, not to dwell on them.

3. Encourage young people to try new things

Instead of focusing all their energy on what they already excel at, it is good to broaden their interests and talent area.

4. Help young people find their passion

Exploring their own interests can help young people to develop a sense of identity, which is essential in building confidence.

5. Allow young people to fail

It is natural to want to protect your child from failure, but trial and error is how they will learn, and falling short on a goal helps them to find out that it is not the end of the world.

6. Praise perseverance

Learning not to give up at the first frustration or bail after one setback is an important life skill. This builds resilience in a young person.

7. Set goals

Stating goals, and achieving them, makes young people feel strong. Help young peope turn hopes and dreams into actionable goals by encouraging them to make a list of things they would like to accomplish. Then, practice breaking down longer-term goals into realistic tasks.

8. Celebrate effort

Praising young people for their accomplishments is great, but it is also important to let them know you are proud of their efforts regardless of the outcome. It takes hard work to develop new skills, and results are not always immediate. Let young people know you value the work they are doing. The lessons learned through the journey can make more of an impact on the young person’s future and personality.

9. Expect them to pitch in

Expect them to pitch in. They might complain, but young people feel more connected and valued when they are counted on to do age-appropriate jobs, such as picking up toys, doing dishes or vacuuming a part of the house. Homework and after-school activities are great but being needed by your family is much more valuable.

10. Embrace imperfection

As adults, we know perfection is unrealistic, and it is important for young people to get that message as early as possible. Help young people see that whether it is on TV, in a magazine, or on a friend’s social media feed, the idea that others are always happy, successful, and perfectly dressed is a fantasy, and can be a destructive one. Instead, remind them that being less than perfect is human, more natural, and totally okay.

11. Set them up for success

Challenges are good for young people, but they should also have opportunities where they can be sure to find success. Help young people get involved with activities that make them feel comfortable, and confident enough to tackle a bigger challenge.

12. The overarching theme is to show your love

Let young people know you love them no matter what. Win or lose the soccer game, good grades or bad. Even when you are showing frustration with them. Making sure that a young person knows that you think they are great — and not just when they do great things. This will boost their self-worth even when they are not feeling good about themselves.